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Cathedral Peak

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Cathedral Peak 


Photos: Recent | Best | Popular
Elevation: 3,000'
Location: 34.4896, -119.7177 View Map  Incorrect?
Page Views: 13,392
Administrators: andy patterson, M.Morley, Adam Stackhouse, Salamanizer, Justin Johnsen, Kristine Hoffman
Submitted By: Jeff Dunbar on Jun 11, 2007
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Another brilliant February day---and a new camera ...

Description 

When it comes to multi-pitch adventure climbing, Cathedral Peak is truly the hidden gem of Santa Barbara!

Cathedral peak is entirely bolt-free and offers at least 3 different multi-pitch trad lines including the Cave Route (5.6), the South Face (5.7), and a 5.10 face route on the shield to the right of South Face.

In particular, the 3-pitch South Face route is a great low-angle training climb for the moderate trad leader.

The approach hike is strenuous but the scenery is stunning and the climbing is fun and readily protectable. For further info about this wild and scenic formation, including basic route descriptions with FA details and an excellent beta photo, consult the old Steve Tucker / Kevin Steele guidebook ("Climbing! Santa Barbara, Ventura, San Luis Obispo" circa 1992).


Getting There 

Cathedral Peak is located approx. 1 mile due south (downhill) from La Cumbre Peak, and getting there is definitely part of the adventure! The 45 minute approach hike is no joke, so bring lots of water and save half a liter per person for the return trip.

By car, take Gibraltar Road all the way up to Camino Cielo and head west (left) until you get to the La Cumbre Peak lookout tower on the left. Park on Camino Cielo and walk uphill through the gate towards the lookout tower. Take the right fork in the loop road just inside the gate.

The trail starts at a wood bench overlooking the ocean at a point where the loop road takes a sharp turn to the left (the bench is carved with the names "Christopher and Shannon" on the top rail). From the wood bench, head 100 yards downhill towards a prominent pile of rocks, then angle down and right over some class 3 and class 4 terrain to the saddle, then follow the saddle south on a good trail to the top of the ridge with your first view of the crag.

From there, work your way east, skirting just below the summit block via the north side of the ridge, and scramble down the east side gully by way of a short/steep climber's trail to the reach the base of the south face where all the climbs begin.


Climbing Season


7 Total Routes


['4 Stars',0],['3 Stars',0],['2 Stars',2],['1 Star',1],['Bomb',1]
['<=5.6',4],['5.7',1],['5.8',0],['5.9',0],['5.10',1],['5.11',0],['5.12',0],['5.13',0],['>=5.14',0],['',0],['<=V1',0],['V2-3',1],['V4-5',0],['V6-7',0],['V8-9',0],['V10-11',0],['V12-13',0],['>=V14',0]

The Classics

Mountain Project's determination of some of the classic, most popular, highest rated routes for Cathedral Peak:
South Face   5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b     Trad, 3 pitches, 350'   
Browse More Classics in Cathedral Peak

Featured Route For Cathedral Peak
Approximate topo for 5.7 South Face route.

South Face 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b  CA : Central Coast : ... : Cathedral Peak
The South Face route offers 3 pitches of fun 5.7 liebacking and face climbing in one of Santa Barbara's most wild and scenic locations overlooking Santa Barbara, the Goleta Valley, and the Channel Islands. The route starts at the base of the prominent left-leaning lieback flake approximately 50 ft right/uphill from the huge cave at the base of the crag.P1: This is the steepest pitch, and probably the technical crux of the route. Follow the lieback flake until it ends, then face climb up a few ...[more]   Browse More Classics in CA

Photos of Cathedral Peak Slideshow Add Photo
Approximate line of the 5.7 <a href='/v/south-face/105976198'>South Face</a> route.
BETA PHOTO: Approximate line of the 5.7 South Face route.
Laura stepping out of the cave at the first (or second) belay.
Laura stepping out of the cave at the first (or se...
Side view of the top half of Cathedral Peak.  The steeper bottom half of the face is obscured by the tree line in this picture.  NOTE: for sense of scale, there is a hiker walking through the brush on the right side of this photo.
BETA PHOTO: Side view of the top half of Cathedral Peak. The ...
Area map from the old Steve Tucker / Kevin Steele guidebook, with Cathedral Peak Trail on the left.
BETA PHOTO: Area map from the old Steve Tucker / Kevin Steele ...
The view west toward UCSB from La Cumbre Peak, as clouds spill over Camno Cielo from the Santa Ynez Valley.
The view west toward UCSB from La Cumbre Peak, as ...
Overview photo from the old Steve Tucker / Kevin Steele guidebook showing all routes on Cathedral Peak circa 1992.  Undoubtedly there's more potential here for the FA-minded folks. <br />169= <a href='/v/cave-route/105976244'>Cave Route</a> (5.5) <br />170= <a href='/v/long-gone-bong/105978405'>Long Gone Bong</a> (5.6) <br />171= <a href='/v/south-face/105976198'>South Face</a> (5.7) <br />172= <a href='/v/dream-weaver/105976356'>Dream Weaver</a> (5.10+ R) <br />173= <a href='/v/southeast-chute/105978412'>Southeast Chute</a> (5.4) <br />174= <a href='/v/west-face/105978415'>West Face</a> (Moderate 5th)
BETA PHOTO: Overview photo from the old Steve Tucker / Kevin S...
Try the trail that heads west from the bench to the crop of rocks in this photo.  Since the fire there seems to be so many 'trails' its hard to decide which is best.  This one is direct and easy to follow.
BETA PHOTO: Try the trail that heads west from the bench to th...
Park outside this gate on La Cumbre Peak.
BETA PHOTO: Park outside this gate on La Cumbre Peak.
Approach trail starts here.
BETA PHOTO: Approach trail starts here.
Marisa Fienup looks south along the ridge toward Cathedral Peak.
Marisa Fienup looks south along the ridge toward C...
A view of the backside and summit block of Cathedral Peak as seen on the approach trail from La Cumbre Peak.  The summit block is visible just to the right of the plant stalk and the approach trail across the saddle is visible on the far left.
BETA PHOTO: A view of the backside and summit block of Cathedr...
South Face route in two pitches (60m rope).
BETA PHOTO: South Face route in two pitches (60m rope).
Don't forget to check out the huge cave at the base of Cathedral Peak before you start climbing!
BETA PHOTO: Don't forget to check out the huge cave at the bas...
3 stacks at La Cumbre Peak
3 stacks at La Cumbre Peak
Natalie Brechtel following me up the first pitch of the 5.7 South Face route.
Natalie Brechtel following me up the first pitch o...
Approach to Cathedral Peak starts near the bench and heads West toward a pair of satellite dishes.  Follow a cleared trail down a ridge to the saddle between La Cumbre Peak and Cathedral Peak.
BETA PHOTO: Approach to Cathedral Peak starts near the bench a...
Me reveling in the last bit of 3rd class terrain on the way back from a great first outing to Cathedral Peak.
BETA PHOTO: Me reveling in the last bit of 3rd class terrain o...
Cave belay station anchor. Pretty sweet.
Cave belay station anchor. Pretty sweet.
Comments on Cathedral Peak Add Comment
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Comments displayed oldest to newestSkip Ahead to the Most Recent Dated Apr 6, 2014
By Jeff Dunbar
From: Carrboro, NC
Jun 18, 2007

I've only done the 5.7 South Face route so far, but I've listed all the other original routes (along with the original overview photo showing all the routes) from the old Steve Tucker / Kevin Steele guidebook for reference.

By andy patterson
Administrator
From: Santa Barbara, CA
Aug 6, 2007

Let's hear it for the KEVIN STEELE GUIDE BOOK!

By Jeff Mahoney
From: Santa Barbara, CA
Aug 25, 2007

Let's hear it for KEVIN STEELE! He, Laura Bylund and I were up there yesterday. Fun route (but bring a weedwhacker....)

By Matthew Fienup
Administrator
From: Ventura, CA
Feb 1, 2008

No where in the preceding description does it say it, so let me be the first: "HELLISH BUSHWHACKING."

I seriously considered devoting myself to sport climbing during the first 1/4-mile of this approach.

By andy patterson
Administrator
From: Santa Barbara, CA
Feb 9, 2008

Heh, heh... Matt does have a point. I've always hiked from the bottom (Tunnel Trailhead) to do the route, so I can't vouch for the hike in from the top. I will say that the hike from the bottom, while not a bushwack, makes for a big day nonetheless.

By Jeff Mahoney
From: Santa Barbara, CA
Feb 11, 2008

Oh Matt, it's not that bad. (I DID say bring a weedwhacker, though).

By Matthew Fienup
Administrator
From: Ventura, CA
Feb 20, 2008

I must be getting old :)

Can anyone recommend a good, tightly bolted, multi-pitch 5.7?

By Chris DeWitt
From: Tampa, FL
Jun 3, 2010

Too much bushwacking. Even after the fire. I got cuts all over. Make sure you bring LOTS of water. I drank 2 liters myself. The climbing on the rock wasn't worth the god awful hike to me. I'll take a strenuous hike, but bushwacking in shorts and a T-shirt is NOT my cup of tea.

By Mike Zinsley
Oct 27, 2010

We did the 5.7 lieback route on Cathedral Peak above Santa Barbara. Nice, but more importantly some tips for the approach:
1. Take a GPS and map your approach. It is easier to find your way to the climb than back from it. DON'T do what we did in the dark on the way back.
2. From the "Shannon" bench at the La Cumbre lookout asphalt road, walk west 100 yards to the boulders and then down to an obvious cleared "trail." NOT toward the ocean and the mini crag below and south of the bench.
3. If you are over 4 feet tall, take a machete.
4. Watch out for the poison oak in the saddle.
5. Plan on a 3 hour round trip NOT including climbing time.
6. If you have curly hair, wear a hat. The branches in the tree tunnels will try to eat you.
7. Watch out for rattlesnakes. We had one little dude refuse to budge from the trail. Climb should be renamed "I'm tired of these mother effin snakes on this mother effin climb."
8. For the whiners who posted, There, There, I'm sure your boo-boos are healed by now. If it makes you feel any better, I got scratched up and cussed on the approach also.
9. We did this in October 2010 and did plenty of sweating. I can't imagine attempting this in the summer.

By Brian Paden
From: Goleta CA
Nov 27, 2010

Long hike, lousy climb... biggest adventure in SB. A must do for any local. Rock quality is surprisingly good. Took us 6 hours car to car after two laps on the face.

By Joseph Stover
From: Batesville, AR
Apr 24, 2011

The hike was pretty tough. The trail was actually nicely maintained and easy to follow... there were a good few sections of ducking, but only a couple crawling moves. It would suck with a large bag. It's all the uphill parts that killed me. The info here on MP is enough to get you there and back. During the "tree-tunnel" section (about 2/3 the way to the peak), there are a few large poison oak plants that reach across the trail, they can mostly be avoided if you are careful (as of 4/24/2011).

By Mike Stearns
Jul 29, 2013

Trail is a breeze currently. Some generous person(s) cut a nice tunnel with (almost) no ducking.

By steve edwards
From: SLC, UT
Jan 16, 2014

Well, since someone's gone up here to boulder I would suggest the front side approach. It's a lot longer but has very little bushwhacking (depending upon how recently someone's trimmed it but it gets used as a hike and is mainly manicured every so often). Unlike the hellish back side approach, it's a great hike and, sheesh, based on how long it's taking people here to burrow through the manzanita and poison oak it might even be shorter. Granted, I'm a fast hiker, but I've gone car to car with a solo lap on the face in 3 hours. More importantly, there's a pretty good boulder field most of the way up the hillside. Did a few things here but could never get a crew psyched enough on hiking to establish its potential. The rock is a frickload better than Potter's Point. Landings do tend to need a lot of work.

By miwuksurfer
From: Santa Barbara
Apr 6, 2014

Does anybody know what the three old bolts on the north side of the peak are. They are relatively close together and at least three up there. You can see them as you scramble down towards La Cumbre.